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Developed by the British Dietetic Association.


getting physical setting SMART goals

children in swimming pool

Whether your long-term goal is to be fitter or slimmer, or both, setting goals for being more active will help you get there. If you've already set goals for changing your eating patterns and behaviour in the 'Eating well' section, you'll know all about SMART goals. These are goals that are:

  • S pecific
  • M easurable
  • A chievable
  • R ealistic
  • T ime specific

We've got some examples here of smart active goals that work for some people. Download your own copy of 'My SMART goals' to fill in for the goals that will work for you.

Download "My Smart Goals" in PDF format 'My SMART goals' | 70Kb PDF

In the same way you have to think about changing your eating patterns, you need to think about the things you will actually do everyday to help achieve your overall weight loss target, by being more active.

For each activity, consider when, where and how often. For example, you might decide to take up walking as a way of being more active and to help with managing your weight.
  • Where will you walk? Will it be near your workplace during your lunch break, or will you walk from home?
  • When will you walk? In the mornings after dropping the children at school, or at lunchtime perhaps?
  • How many times a week is realistic for you? What time of day will suit?
  • Who with? Would you prefer to walk alone? Or do you need someone to go with you? Some people find it easier to keep to a goal if they're meeting a friend.
  • What will you need? Do you need some good walking shoes or new trainers?
  • What might get in the way of achieving your goal? Think of potential barriers and how you might overcome these.

Some examples of SMART activity goals:

  • To walk to the paper shop at least five times a week instead of driving
  • Use the stairs at work at least 3 times a day instead of the lift
  • Do gardening for one hour every week

Whatever your goal, it must work for you: you're the expert about what you like and dislike, and what's realistic and achievable for you. Just set a few goals at a time, and test them out.

Keeping a diary can also help you to see areas for change in your activity levels, and it can help monitor your progress. Download your own diary by clicking on 'Keeping a diary' :

Getting good at goal setting

Measuring success

How are you going to measure success? Think how long it might take to achieve a specific goal and set a date for checking it. Tick if achieved or not by the review date.

Think about how you feel after being active and remind yourself of the positive benefits you identified before the start. How's your breathing now? Are you feeling better in yourself? Do you have more energy than before?

If your aim is weight loss, don't expect to see immediate results - this is likely to take longer (2-3 months). For weight loss, it's best to combine activity goals with some changes to your eating habits too, so click on 'Eating well' to set yourself some eating goals.


Making changes is tough, and to be successful, you'll need support and encouragement. Where will you get your support from? It might be a friend, family member, local fitness instructor, or a group perhaps. Someone to say "Well done!" or "How's it going?" on a regular basis can make all the difference to your motivation and confidence.

What if things go wrong?

It's normal! There are bound to be times when other things get in the way of you achieving your goals: family pressures, busy periods at work, holidays, illness, bad weather...
Click on 'struggling to lose weight?' in 'Options for support' for more help.